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Sources for House History in Montgomery County, PA

23 January 2017 Leave a comment

I have been on quite a hiatus, but yesterday, I went down the rabbit hole of trying to research the history of some houses in rural Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  As a child, I lived in Schwenksville, PA, and the surrounding townships.  I lived in old houses, and I was always interested in who lived there before me, and what they used to look like.

For a rural area, it can be a bit difficult to research who exactly lived in a house and when.  Living in a city now, it’s much easier to research–in addition to the free classes that teach you how to research your house and what resources are available, even houses built over 100 years ago needed to have permits.  It was always much looser in the more rural areas, especially if you’re interested in houses that are, at the youngest, 130 years old.

Here are two maps that I have found useful, as it includes who lives where.  It’s especailly helpful for the rural areas around Schwenksville, Perkiomen Township, Limerick Township, and Frederick Township.  If you’re familiar with the area, you’ll be familiar with the family names from the names of the roads and stores.

  • Fowler, T. M, and James B Moyer. Schwenksville, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 1894. [Morrisville, Pa., T. M. Fowler & James B. Moyer, 1894] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/75696531/. (Accessed January 23, 2017.)
  • Morris, William E, and Smith & Wistar. Map of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania: from original surveys. [Philadelphia: Smith & Wistar, 1849] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2012590207/. (Accessed January 23, 2017.)

Some memories of Petworth and the Old Soldiers’ Home in DC

6 March 2013 Leave a comment

The other day, the Washington Post Magazine had a great article about the rebuilding of ties between the Old Soldiers’ Home (a.k.a. Armed Forces Retirement Home) in Washington, DC and the surrounding neighborhoods of Petworth and Park View.  The article is well worth a read for a historical perspective of the Home, an example in community building, and a reminder of the effects the race riots had on DC.

But what I liked the most was the memories that people had posted in the comments section, which I’m going to repost here. Many times, comments don’t get as much notice, or they may get lost when systems/databases are changed, so I wanted to archive them for others to find easily.

Guye_Jern
3/2/2013 9:37 AM GMT-1000
Wow, the Old Soldier’s Home finally got some space here. I worked at the cemetery there during the 70’s for a couple of summers while in college. I believe that is the oldest federal cemetery in the country. Back then, the whole scene there was rather depressing. Most of those who ventured out beyond the gate went to one of two bars: Kenny”s and Ethel’s, which were practically right next \door to each other.

The cemetery opened during the civil war and buried there are both confederates (i.e., traitors) and union men. Before Gettysburg.

tmkelley
3/2/2013 11:17 AM GMT-1000
Ms. Wax, this aging veteran has tears in his eyes after reading this engaging story of renaissance. I watched the city burn just before I joined the US Navy, so 45 years is a long time to wait. I hope that any development there mostly benefits the veterans and their neighbors’ interaction with them. Everyone wins, and how often does that happen in DC? Thank you!

walbro2010
3/2/2013 2:13 PM GMT-1000
I remember back in the1950’s my grandfather taking me to the Soldier’s home and watching cows- there must have been some sort of dairy operation there at the time.

gurudev16
3/2/2013 2:25 PM GMT-1000
Well let me share this. Its great to see the relationship with the Old Soldiers Home and the community being reforged. Its disappointing however to hear it being implied that those relationships had ever been completely severed . Many generations of Washingtonians have worked there, taking care of the solders and the grounds or had relatives staying there. The reality is the “Home” shut itself off, even in the the most foreboding times there were always individuals and families in the neighborhood who could have been welcomed to associate with the veterans.

My interest in the site goes back even further than the establishment of the Home, having finagled my way on to the campus several times. The native Indians in this area once regarded the area as sacred. If you look at a Army Corp of Engineers topographical map, its conjectured this is where the headwaters of Washington’s “Third River” originated-Tiber Creek or Goose Creek. No doubt the native Indians had another name for this sacred place. I suspect the cistern that feeds the ponds now was the original font.

Water from the head of Tiber Creek was once taken down to the White House by wagon train. The creek meandered down to the plains feeding into the old canal system, which eventually became so polluted it was covered over and became part of the cities sewer system. What could be more symbolic of what was done to this once beautiful land, A sacred river turned into a sewer. Profoundly shameful.

Herman Aronovic
3/3/2013 3:49 AM GMT-1000
Growing up in my granmother’s house on Varnum St just a few yards away from the Soldiers Home gates in the 1960’s and climbing over those iron spikes to play football before they put up the barbed wire was very interesting to say the least! Ms Wax you just don’t all the stories in my head for the last 50 years about that neighborhood and the curious little boy who hung on to that neighborhood as my roots to where I’m at now? I used to go Senator’s games at RFK with a couples of Soldiers who rented a room from us There were 3 beer taverns on Upshur St just outside of the main gate,and alot of alcohol consumed.The pharmacy had a lunch counter and had great milkshakes and ham sandwiches! Tico’s variety store had several pinball machines and a bowling one.Ray’s had half smokes and twist doughnuts next to Barnes barbershop! I Anyway thanks for bring back some cool memories and inspriing me to contine on with my story of the little white kid on the block! I can still see tanks driving up the street in 68 riots! Sincerely,Herman

Willy Wagner
3/3/2013 11:17 AM GMT-1000
Thank you for a great story. I am a resident of the AFRH-W (Soldiers Home).
I have known Mr. Jessie James for about 10 years. He is all you wrote about him and much more.
He is courteous and assists his fellow residents in many ways.
Regarding the relationship with our outside the fence neighbors.
I am a Caucasion (don’t like to use black or white – snow is white and I have never seen a snow
white person) and when I first arrived at the home in 2002 it was African American Residents who warned me about the neighborhood. Coming from California you can imagine the effect this had on me.
As someone else already mentioned, most of the employees at the home are African Americans.
They do an excellent job and we all get along fine.
I have since lost my fear or apprehension about the DC area. To me it is a place like any other place. People are people, no matter where you live.

MHinNC
3/4/2013 12:04 PM GMT-1000
My husband’s paternal grandfather was an army doctor during WWII and was stationed at the “Old Soldier’s Home” in DC. His son, my husband’s father, spent many of his boyhood years there, visiting with the veterans and listening to their stories. My father-in-law still has the uniform patches and other small but meaningful memorabilia that some of the soldiers gave him. I did not realize the Soldier’s home was still open. Thank you for this article.

In addition to the Post article, I was reminded of a blog article I read last year. Prince of Petworth/House History Man did a feature on an old corner store (District Grocery at 234 Upshur Street NW) that used to service the Old Soldiers’ Home, and a couple old residents made comments as well regarding their memories:

The NeighborHood Reporter
April 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Wooo this takes me back, I grew up around the corner on Webster St and that place was wonderful . I remember one Easter back around 1962 my parents took me there and we purchased a live chick and brought it home and it only lived about 5 days . I also remember my father took us there,me and my sister and we bought my first kite. We took the kite over to Solders Home to fly but soon a security guard there told us that we couldn’ t fly it there so we had to bring it down. That was a wonderful place you could by toys candy everything a child my age (6yrs old) could want. Believe it or not I was just thinking about that store about a week ago. Pleasant memories forever THANKS POP for this trip down memory lane

blithe
May 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Thank you SO much for posting this! I lived in a house at 3rd and Varnum when I was a kid — and continued to maintain ties to the neighborhood long after that. In many ways, it was a perfect neighborhood in which to grow up. We had 3 corner stores — the one I went to was “Ben’s” which I think is/was directly across the street from the one profiled above. There was also “Tico’s” about a half a block away. That block of Upshur had a dry cleaner’s, a small variety store, a small grocery store, and when I was VERY young, a drug store — that actually had a soda fountain.

This picture and the accompanying history brought back a lot of great memories for me! Do people still by pickles from huge glass jars (“No, not that one… THAT one!”) while the patient store owner fishes for them with a giant fork? I remember Ben’s as a family business, with a tiny deli counter in back, an open “freezer” full of ice for bottled sodas, and a separate one for popsicles and such. It was kind of store and the kind of neighborhood where small kids would be sent with a scribbled note and a dollar bill from a harried parent — and come back with the bread or butter or whatever was needed for a meal — when there was no time to do the “real” shopping at Safeway. Ben’s was the first place I was allowed to go to on my own — when I was considered old enough to cross the alley — but not the street — so I have few specific memories of what we called “the store across the street”, because I only went there when ALL of the other stores on “our side” of the street were closed, or didn’t have what I’d been sent to purchase.
LOL! Seeing this picture has clearly sparked a LOT of fond childhood memories for me! Thanks PoP and Paul!!!!!

Deciphering Old German Writing

26 September 2012 1 comment

One thing that I learned to do that always amazes people is to read these old church records written in German, but in a handwriting that no modern-day German speaker I’ve met can decipher–all while never taking any lessons in German or understanding a word of it.  Let me provide the world with the links that helped me figure out what the heck these records were saying.

First off, the Kurrent script examples at AustrianFamilyHistory.org are absolutely incredible.  Start there.  Of course, once you look at more than one town’s church book, you’ll see the vast difference in handwriting between peoples, but one great thing the author does is separate the samples by time periods.  For me, the most incredibly helpful page continues to be the Kurrent Alphabet Samples.  I’ll usually have this open in a window while I’ll be looking at records.  It shows multiple variations of how a single letter could be written (depending on the penmanship, where the letter was in the word, etc).  It’s invaluable.

Second, as if deciphering what the words were wasn’t hard enough, you then had to figure out what they meant!  In the case of the occupations, this could really be tough.  For this, I used a few different resources.  The first was Google translate.  Sadly, that rarely worked.  There were a few pages that I had to sort through to try to find the professions listed, or similar/root words listed (because the spelling back then wasn’t the greatest): European Roots Genealogy’s List of Old German Professions, Old German Professions and Trade Names, and finally, if it wasn’t listed on any of those, FamilySearch’s German Word List.

But, if anyone wants to take a stab at this one from last year, I’d love you forever!

Jacob Quirin, der Junge__, Britzon Quirin, alhier burger, und ___ kirchencensor alhier, ehel. sohn; __
jungfer, Anna Catharina, c__: be___ Schaffer, gr____ ____ alhier ____ ehel. tochter

Translation:
Jacob Quirin, the young__, Britz Quirin, citizen of here, and ____ church censor of here, legitimate son; (married?)
young girl, Anna Catharina, ___: ___ Schaffer, ___ of here, legitimate daughter.

An example of why not to only use indexes for genealogy

6 March 2012 Leave a comment

Ancestry.com has an entry for a William H Moore who died at age 85 on 14 February 1898 in New York City. When I first saw this a few months ago, I was so excited. This must be my William H Moore, I thought. The birth dates line up, after all.

Using the information provided by Ancestry, I ordered a copy of the death certificate from the NYC archives. I was so disappointed when I received it–it couldn’t be my William H Moore. I quietly filed it away and moved on.

I was searching on Ancestry recently, and noticed that many people are attributing this record to my William H Moore. This is simply not true, so let me set the record straight.

My William H Moore was born sometime between 1812 and 1815 in New York. He married a Julia, and they lived in Genoa, Cayuga County and Lansing, Tompkins County. They had the following children:

  • Grayson R. Moore (b 1848)
  • Odell D. Moore (b 1851)
  • Harry W. Moore (b 1853, d 1920)
  • Anna J. Moore (b 1855)
  • Hattie R. Moore (b 1857)
  • Isaac R Moore (b 1860)
  • John R. Moore (b 1862)
  • Julia R. Moore (b 1863)
  • Wilson F. Moore (b 1866)
  • Frederick Moore (b 1868)
  • William Moore (b 1868)

This William H Moore did NOT die February 14, 1898 in New York City.

William Henry Moore died February 14, 1898 at age 85 years old. He was white, a widower, retired, and born in New Jersey. He had lived in New York City for 50 years. His father’s name was Alexander Moore, who was born in New Jersey. His mother was Elizabeth Moore, who was also born in New Jersey. He died at 341 Broome Street (a hotel), where he lived.

This could not be the William H Moore who lived in Genoa and Lansing, because the William H Moore who died in NYC had lived there for 50 years. Even if that was an exaggeration, in the 1880 census, the William H Moore I’m interested in lived in Lansing, so the longest he could have lived in NYC would have been 18 years, which is hard to confuse with fifty years.

When you go soley by the index, you miss important information and misattribute information. Everyone has been guilty of it at one point or another, but with the internet the way it is, once you put something out there, it’s out there forever, and it gets spread around until it’s taken as fact. I am sure that many people will copy the false information from the member trees, and almost none of those people will ever read this, but it should be put out there.

Lowthers from Connors Genealogy

22 December 2011 2 comments

I went through the great transcription of the Ballysakerry Roman Catholic parish records ranging from 1845 to 1896 over at Connors Genealogy. These are not the complete records, but they were a great jumping off point.

Andrew Lother married Judy Munnely before 1845. They had:

  • Bridget Lother, 12 Oct 1845
  • Patrick Lother, 11 May 1856

Patrick Lother married Babby Monly before 1855. They had:

  • Elizabeth Lother, 15 Aug 1855

Bridget Lother married John Foody on 24 Jun 1865. In various transcriptions, he is listed as John Foody or John Hoody or even John Swift. They had:

  • Bridget Foody, 8 Dec 1866

Ann Lother married Francis Craig on 7 Feb 1867. They had:

  • Bridget Craig, 2 Feb 1868
  • John Craig, 21 May 1870
  • Mary Craig, 25 Feb 1872
  • Patrick Craig, 28 Feb 1875
  • Catherine Craig, 27 Mar 1877
  • Nabby Craig, 13 July 1879 (aka Sabina Craig)

Anna Lother married Thomas McNulty on 5 Feb 1870. They had:

  • John McNulty, 27 July 1871
  • Michael McNulty, 19 Sep 1873
  • Thomas McNulty, 5 Feb 1879

Michael Lother married Bridget Cawley on 1 Jun 1871. They had:

  • Catherine Lother, 17 Nov 1874
  • Martin Lother, 3 Nov 1875
  • Ann Lother, 22 Nov 1878
  • Bridget Lohter, 7 May 1882

Elizabeth Lother married Francis O’Boyle on 15 Jul 1879.

Maria Lother married Richard McAndrew on 7 Feb 1880.

Resolve on the Petition of Palmer Gardner, approved January 24, 1792

2 September 2011 Leave a comment

I had some copies made from the Massachusetts Archives from the legislative packet related to the January 24 1792 general court resolve to grant land in Lincoln County to people who had lost land in the surveying of the boundary with New York. On October 1, 1798, Caleb Eddy was ordered by the Supreme Judicial Court to post notice in newspapers about his petition before the petition was to be heard on the June 26, 1799 by the Supreme Judicial Court at Pownalborough (now in Maine). John C William was Caleb Eddy’s attorney, and H W Dwight was the court clerk on October 1, 1798. I had seen these notices in newspapers while searching for Palmer Garnder, and was hoping to find reference of any Dyers, since the Dyers and Gardners supposedly owned adjoining lands…but I did not. Still interesting and valuable, just not something that would knock down a brick wall.

I’m not sure where this Groton is located. Asa Douglas was a Jericho valley pioneer (Jericho being for former land grant of the Hancock area) who lived in Stephentown, NY, and who was a representative of the area in the MA House of Delegates. Douglas’ son Benajah Douglas settled in Ballston Spa, New York. The present village of Groton, NY seems too far away–but Massachusetts had tried to claim as far west as they could, though I had thought that they weren’t that aggressive by 1771. Groton, MA is too far east to be questioned in relation to NY. Groton, CT and Groton, VT are too far away from any NY/MA joint contested border.

[folio 1 verso]

The proprietors petition of the Groton grant

Comtee on Petn of Groton Propr

Mr. [Jones?] B
Mr. Bowdoin
Mr. Parsons

[folio 1 recto]

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

In the House of Representatives, June 10th 1790

On the petition of Palmer Gardner, Noah Eli, Reuben Hewett, Daniel McCarthy, Eleazer Bateman, Thos Eldridge, Jeremiah Mark, John Cops, Asa Douglass, Caleb Eldridge, James Osbourne, David Warren, John Rathburn, Barnett Stilwill and Jonas Shed praying compensation may be made them for lands lost by running the line between this Commonwealth and the State of New York.

Whereas it appears to this Court that Nineteen Hundred and eighty acres of Land belonging to a Grant of Land made to the proprietors of Groton in the Year 1771 have fallen within the State of New York and whereas it appears also that nine hundred and eighty acres of the Grant aforesaid were sold by the proprietors of Groton aforesaid to the above petitioners.

Resolved that the committee on the subject of unappropriated Land in the County of Lincoln be and they hereby are impowered and directed in behalf of this Commonwealth to confirm to aeach ofb the petitioners also caccording to the number of acres each of they Lost.d such a quantity of the unappropriated land in e the four eastern counties in this Commonwealth as the sd f Commissioners shall estimate to be worth g£245 in full [consideration?] of the Land lost [?] [?]

Sent up for concurrence

David Cobb Spkr

In Senate Febr. 19, 1791–
Heard + concurred with amendments as a, c, e, f, + g

Sent down for concurrence Saml Phillips Presidt

a. dele from a to b
c. dele from c to d
e. ins. either of
f. dele “Comissioners” + ins Committee
g. dele £245 + ins Five hundered + forty five pounds (in words)

[folio 2 verso]

Resolve on the Petition of Palmer Gardner and others granting them lands

Approved January 24, 1792

Groton Proprietors

March 1791 Refer’d

concurred

[folio 2 recto]

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

In the House of Representatives

March 9, 1791

On the petition of Palmer Gardner, Noah Eli, Reuben Hewett, Daniel McCarthy, Eleazer Bateman, Thomas Eldridge, Jeremiah Mark, John Cops, Asa Douglass, Caleb Eldridge, James Osbourne, David Warren, John Rathburn, Barnett Stilwill and Jonas Shed praying compensation may be made for them for lands lost by running the Line between this Commonwealth & the State of New York.

Whereas it appears to this Court that nineteen hundred and eighty acres of land belonging to a Grant of land made to the proprietors of Groton in the Year 1771 have fallen within the State of New York and whereas it also appears from the Representation of the above Petitioners that nine hundred and eighty acres of the grant aforesaid were sold by the said petitioners of Groton aforesaid to the said petitioners–

Therefore Resolved that the Comittee on the subject of unappropriated land in the County of Lincoln be and they are hereby impowered and directed in behalf of this Commonwealth to convey and confirm to the said petitioners such such a quantity of the unappropriated land in either of the four eastern counties in this Commonwealth as the said Committee shall estimate to be worth Two hundred and forty five pounds*

Sent up for concurrence

David Cobb Spkr

*to have & to hold the same to them their several Heirs and assign in proportion to the Several quantities of Land which they have respectively lost as aforesaid provided the Petitioners have actually purchased the right of the said Proprietors of Groton to the said Nine hundred & Eighty acres & now hold the same.

[folio 3 verso]

Report upon Palmer Gardners Petition

concurred

[folio 3 recto]

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

In the Senate Jany 23d 1792

On the petition of Palmer Gardner, Noah Eli, Reuben Hewett, Daniel McCarthy, Eleazer Bateman, Thomas Eldridge, Jeremiah Mark, John Cops, Asa Douglass, Caleb Eldridge, Jas Osbourn, David Warren, John Rathburn, Barnett Stilwill & Jonas Shed praying compensation may be made them for lands lost on running the line between this Commonwealth & the State of New York. –Whereas it appears to this Court that nineteen hundred & eighty acres of land belonging to a Grant of land made to the proprietors of Groton in the Year 1771 have fallen within the State of New York, & whereas it also appears from the representation of the above Petitioners that nine hundred & eighty acres of the grants aforesaid were sold by the said proprietors of Groton aforesaid to the said petitioners. –Therefore Resolved that the Committee on the subject of unappropriated land in the County of Lincoln be & they are hereby impowered & directed in behalf of this Commonwealth to convey & confirm to the said petitioners such a quantity of the unappropriated land in either of the four Eastern Counties in this Commonwealth as the said Committee shall estimate to be worth two hundred & forty five pounds. –To have and to hold the same to them their several heirs & assins in proportion to the several quantities of land which they have respectively lost as aforesaid provided the said Petitioners have actually purchased the right of the said Proprietors of Groton to the said Nine hundred & eighty acres & now hold the same.

Sent down for concurrence
Saml Phillips Presidt

In the House of Representatives Jany 24 1792
Read & concurred John [Coffin?] [Jones?] [?] [?] [?]
Approv’d
John Hancock

[folio 4 verso]

Report upon Palmer Gardners Petition

concurred

[folio 4 recto]

To the Honourable Court the petition of the subscribers [?] of the proprietors of the Township of Groton Humbly shows that whereas the Said proprietors of Said Township Laid out a certain tract of land Granted to them by the General Court in the Supposed town of Hancock who sold great part thereof to us the subscribers and [yisok?] their pay for the same and by the Running of the line between the Commonwealth of Masachusits and the State of New York great part thereof is cut of from said Masachusits and we understand that the original proprietors [?] the Honourable Court for a compensation to be made to them for all the land cut off from said grant by [said?] [line?] where they have had a full compensation for most of said land from [?] the subscribers which we think is an unreasonable Request of said proprietors to ask a compensation for any more than that which they have not Sold and that your petitioners should have no compensation for all the money they have paid to said proprietors and the Heavy Taxes they have paid to the Masachusits for the lands Belonging to the State of New York. Therefore your petitioners Most humbly pray the Honourable Court to take that matter in to your wise consideration and grant them a compensation for the lands purchased by Said subscribers which [?] off from the Masachusits which the Subscribers have been obliged to [?] of the [?] or loose some at a very high rate a plan of which will be herewith presented Shewing what the said proprietors have sold and what they have not solde that your Honour May be capable of Doing Justice to your petitions and to Said proprietors which is all we Desire and your petitiors as in Duty bound will ever pray.
[signed]
Palmer Gardner
Noah Ely
Elizer Bateman
Reuben Hewit
Daniel Carthy
Caleb Eldredg
Thomas Eldredg
Asa Douglass
Barnet Stilwill
John Rathbon
James Osborn
David Warren
Jonas Shed

Neffs included in JA Caldwell’s History of Indiana County, Penn’a

8 June 2011 Leave a comment

Typically, when I add books to the Library page, it’s because I’m getting ready to return the book to the library. This is the case with my list of pages listing Neffs in JA Caldwell’s 1880 publication, “History of Indiana County, Penn’a, 1745-1880.” You can view it at online for free, but it’s helpful to have an index.

Page Person mentioned
233 Aaron Neff
234 Aaron Neff
235 Aaron Neff
236 Aaron Neff
296 A.P. Neff (Abram P. Neff? Caldwell has as 64th Regiment, but no A__ Neff in 64th according to Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System)
297 Ezra Neff
301 Jacob Neff, Martin Neff
411 John Neff
446 Rev Aaron Neff
463 Catherine Neff
467 John Neff
473 Phebe Neff
479 Phebe Neff
511 Jonathan Neff
536 John Neff, Pernilla Neff
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